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Bands like this are the reason that metal is dead. - 0%

Lord_Of_Diamonds, March 14th, 2019
Written based on this version: 2012, Digital, Independent

So you're wondering why heavy metal is "dead", huh?

I'll spell it out for you: Modern metal music is not worthy of being respected. Even the "old guard" has lost a lot of respect. Cannibal Corpse PC'd up their lyrics, In Flames became an alt-rock band, Metallica... well... you know. And the younger metal bands continue to churn out piles of vomit that - unbelievably - generate praise from their fans of the same generation. It honestly baffles me how this new generation of technical deathcore/post-prog (or, more properly, djent) bands has managed to gain any footing at all in the world of music. I suppose that Rings of Saturn, like every other musical act who's gotten really popular, developed a unique sound that fans wanted more of. When developing that sound, they were obviously building off of proto-djent bands like Meshuggah. The only problem is, once a band's unique sound has been established, a load of imitators will appear to rip off that sound because they want some of that band's fame. Rings of Saturn's unique sound is one of many that changed the metal scene for the worse. I shall now proceed to dismantle this album, and, in the process, give you some reasons why bands like this one killed modern metal.

The drum parts on this album give a whole new meaning to "brutal drumming". Oops, did I say "drumming"? I meant "drum programming". Oh, and by "brutal", I mean "absolute shit". The kick drum sounds like a combination of a baseball card stuck in the spokes of a bicycle wheel and a fart, while at the same time being utterly impossible for an actual human to play without boatloads of enhancements. Same with the snare. I mean, I suppose you could use double strokes to somewhat imitate the kick and use gravity rolls to somewhat imitate the snare, but you'd still be hearing human groove, dynamics, and timing (ALL of which this album's drums lack), not to mention the fact that you could only maintain speed like this for a few seconds before falling off. Rings of Saturn does live shows, believe it or not. So why do they write drum parts that aren't even playable live? What is the purpose of programming these parts - and not even giving a shit whether it sounds like an actual drummer?? Or, if it's actually a human playing the drums, then he/she needs to lay off the triggers and beat correction, grow a pair and actually make the track sound like an actual drummer, which this does not. Zero groove, zero dynamics, everything's just 300 BPM maximum velocity vomit the whole way through. If I tried to write a list of the timecodes on this album at which you hear a drum pattern that's not humanly possible to play exactly as it is, I'd probably end up writing something about the length of a Game of Thrones novel.

How about those guitar parts, huh? Rings of Saturn's (former) drummer actually has admitted that they speed up the guitar parts for their recordings. Another factor that hinders the playing of live shows. I mean, even if they left the parts at normal speed, the riffs would still sound like shit. If you can even call them "riffs", that is. It seems like, about 75% of the time, the guitar parts are just riffless chugging. It's all about the dissonance, baby! If there is something that sounds like an actual riff, it's either unimaginative crap disguised with fancy picking patterns, or some form of sweep picking/tapping. Speaking of sweep picking and tapping, how about those solos? You have to wonder if that's actually a guitar when a solo comes around. Not only has the lead guitar been drowned in FX and time-warping, the note patterns are far from being impressive. So you can sweep-pick a diminished scale at 300 BPM with the help of beat correction, big whoop! I suppose they're trying to make it sound "alien-ish", to stay true to the lyrical content (more about that to come), but what they're doing is making it sound like an R2 unit getting raped. Which is not a good sound. And let's not even get started on the tone. It's that same mids-cranked "djenty" tone that was so infamously first demonstrated by Meshuggah's mid-2000's works. I have wondered before how the djent guitar tone became so imitated. I mean, I'm listening to the album on a pair of Skullcandys right now and the guitars sound like shit, but... you play this thing on your home stereo... or a pair of Apple earbuds? Sounds like somebody put their scrap metal in a wood chipper. Also, there appears to be a very strong noise gate on the guitar... so strong that transients are eliminated in certain cases (see the intros to "Faces Imploding" and "Peeling Arteries"). Ever heard of HUMBUCKERS, guys? And... there's no bass. Occasionally, when a breakdown comes around, there's a sub in the background that sounds like an 808 off of a modern trap-rap chart-topper. Sometimes you can hear an actual bass-like thing in the background, but it sounds so muddy, you get the idea that it might just be the guitars fed through an octavizer. There's a breakdown in "Peeling Arteries" where you can hear the "bass" clearly; it sounds just like that: a guitar fed through an octavizer. Anyway, in case you don't get my drift by now, every guitar part on this album is ill-conceived and utterly awful to boot.

The lyrics are as gimmicky as it gets. Here's my impression of a Rings of Saturn lyric-writing session: "Hey guys, let's write a dumb-ass story about aliens and then use the thesaurus to make every other word sound cool and poetic!" Basically, every song is about extraterrestrial life coming to Earth and destroying/eating all they see. Not only are the lyrics laughable ("We will stain your planet bright red/Fuck your world, home of vermin" "Bow to your true fucking creators!"), the way they're delivered in the vocals leave you rolling on the floor with laughter as you listen to the pitch shifters and formant shifters slur Ian Bearer's voice into oblivion. "A new form of killer" becomes "yeeea neeew feeeeorm of kyyeeeler", as Bearer's cringy high screams become a new form of killer... to your ears. As you listen to the lyrics when delivered in growl form, you begin to realize just how much the syllables have been distorted by effects. It sounds stupid and hilarious at the same time. What's even worse is that every single deathcore band from 2010 onward has vocals that sound like this.

Do you follow me? Are you picking up on my concept yet? Do you begin to see how the modern metal scene, rife with bands like this one, are not respected? Metal has been respected in the past because of its raw nature and real technical musicianship. It was known for quite some time to be one of the "most real" genres there was. So what happens when a band makes music that displays artificial technical skill and DEFINITELY is not raw or real? How is writing these dumb-ass lyrics, programming drum parts that no human being could ever play as they are without enhancements, writing riffs that are predominately unimaginative dissonant chugs, AND speeding up guitar and bass parts remotely worthy of being respected? Is making music that is so artificially "technical" that you can't play it live worthy of being respected? Radio-friendly rock music may be annoying and formulaic, but they sure as hell don't speed up the guitar parts for it. After you dismantle this album and its style, you realize that there is very little about it that is worthy of being respected. It gained traction simply because it sounded unique and there were enough people out there who were dumb enough to believe that an actual drummer was playing the drums like that. At the end of the day, it simply becomes something to laugh at. And people do laugh at it, believe me. "Technical deathcore" is the laughing-stock of the metal meme Internet. Fellow metalheads, is this really what we've allowed our music to become? Something for people to post memes about on Instagram? Have we really witnessed our music being transformed from actual brutality into artificial brutality? And you wonder why metal is dead! It's not because of bands like Slipknot, who have given newer generations the wrong impression of metal. It's because the musicians who make the stuff aren't real, and probably never will try to make themselves real.

I don't like to give albums 0% ratings, just because I usually can find something musical that is worthy of being complimented. I have searched this album over many times, and I'm sorry. This type of music killed the metal genre, and there is nothing about it that deserves any praise from anyone, whether they are first-time listener or experienced metalhead.